• The marching has stopped, so let the negotiations begin

    This weekend, on the eve of the UN climate talks in Paris, 785,000 took part in over 2,300 events in 175 countries including the UK (Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle and London).  It was an incredible demonstration of global solidarity urging climate action.  

    It was also a lot of fun.  My son and I joined RSPB supporters in London to clap, dance and march (in the wind and rain) for the love of nature.

    But now…

    • 30 Nov 2015
  • Why we march and what we want

    Why we march

    There is a letter in the Times today signed by 49 leaders of development, faith and environment groups (including Mike Clarke of the RSPB).  It explains why tens of thousands of people will be marching tomorrow.  This is what it says...


    This weekend, thousands of people will march in London and in cities around the world, calling for action to tackle climate change. At the talks in Paris, our…

    • 28 Nov 2015
  • Taking the lead

    Proceedings of scientific symposiums are often not the most exciting reads. There are frequently full of fascinating and useful information and as such are vital in informing our conservation actions, but the fact remains they are usually written by scientists, for scientists, which means you sometimes need to take a fair bit of time to sift through and identify the key conclusions.

    However, you may have noted that the…

    • 27 Nov 2015
  • Documenting crimes against wild birds

    Today we publish our annual Birdcrime report- the only centralised source of incident data for wild bird crime in the UK.  I am incredibly proud of this document as it reflects the hard work and dedication of volunteers, the RSPB’s Investigations team, the police, the statutory nature conservation agencies and others in tackling wildlife crime.  While impressive, the report remains a sobering read.

    Here are this…

    • 26 Nov 2015
  • Spending Review: first relief and then a reality check

    Reflecting on today’s announcement that DEFRA would be 15% in real terms by 2020 one of the RSPB's economists remarked “when you’re expecting the apocalypse a broken leg feels like a Christmas present”.

    He does tend to trade in hyperbole, but Defra’s settlement is better than the 30% we had been led to expect (see here).

    It seems the chancellor has been able to make use of newly predicted…

    • 25 Nov 2015
  • A big day in the long struggle to protect the laws that protect nature

    Following Friday's conference in Brussels, I am delighted to welcome my colleague, Kate Jennings, who has spearheaded the UK contribution to the campaign to defend the EU Nature Directives.  Below, she offers her reflections on a memorable day in the heart of the European Union.


    Over 2 years after the European Commission…

    • 24 Nov 2015
  • Looking forward

    In the run to every Christmas, big moments seem to come thick and fast.  This year is no different.  Here's a flavour of what to expect over the next couple of weeks...

    ...on Wednesday, the Chancellor delivers the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review.  We'll keep an eye out for the detail of Defra's settlement hoping that core capacity remains to deliver its major environmental commitments

    ...on Sunday…

    • 23 Nov 2015
  • Is nature a small thing to you? Guest blog from Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive

    On the day of a crucial conference in Brussels regarding the future of the EU Nature Directives, my boss, Mike Clarke, offers his perspective on how politicians should respond to the findings of review into their effectiveness...


    For much of this year, I’ve had the privilege of being at the cutting edge of our campaign to defend the Nature Directives. In the UK, in Brussels…

    • 20 Nov 2015
  • A response to the UK Government’s announcement about future of UK energy policy

    With the UN climate talks in Paris now less than two weeks away, I read with interest the Government’s latest plans, out today, for the UK’s energy future (see here) . The Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has announced her intention to close the UK’s coal fire power stations by 2025. This is welcome news and certainly a step in the right direction. Removing this carbon-intensive fuel from our energy mix marks…

    • 18 Nov 2015
  • Reflections on the draft report about the review of the EU Nature Directives

    For much of this year, the RSPB has been campaigning to defend the EU Birds and Species & Habitats Directives (known as the Nature Directives) – powerful laws that protect habitats and species across the EU. With the help of our supporters, and in concert with hundreds other organisations in the UK and across Europe, we have made the case that these laws work - they are good for wildlife, good for business and good for…

    • 18 Nov 2015
  • The Nature of Climate Change

    Only a fortnight remains before world leaders will head to Paris for the most important climate change negotiations in several years. These talks will hopefully see the agreement of a new global deal on climate change and will be an opportunity, after the appalling events in the French capital at the weekend, to demonstrate continued support for multilateral cooperation to tackle global problems.

    As UK negotiators, our…

    • 16 Nov 2015
  • Reforming wildlife law

    It seems like ages ago that the Law Commission consulted on its proposals for reforming wildlife management law.  But then it was back in August 2012!  After considerable deliberation and several postponements the Law Commission’s final report and accompanying Bill was published on Tuesday.

    The brief was to consolidate the varied laws that cover the control, exploitation and protection of wildlife species in England…

    • 13 Nov 2015
  • The State of... Defra's Budget

    The Chancellor's announcement on Monday that Defra along with four other departments had agreed their budget settlements took most people by surprise. 48 hours on and no further details have appeared. It seems we shall have to wait for the full Spending Review announcement on 25 November.

    What we do know is that planned cuts across the five departments average 30% and it is difficult to conclude anything other than…

    • 11 Nov 2015
  • The state of... UK birds

    While I've been locked in meetings over the past couple of days, two bits of big news have emerged about the state of UK birds and the future state of Defra finances. 

    Alas, both trends remain on a downward trajectory.

    In this and my next blog, I shall try to get beyond the headlines and explore the implications.

    I start with our core interest - what's happening to our birds.

    The State of the UK’s Birds report…

    • 11 Nov 2015
  • Lessons and questions from Devon

    I spent two days last week enjoying the West Country weather – one day getting drenched on Dartmoor, the next indoors at a conference at Exeter Racecourse where the going was very soggy.

    The purpose of my visit was to help Devon Birds celebrate the completion of the new county bird atlas (edited by Mike Lock and Stella Beavan) - a repeat of the one published in 1988.  Like comparable initiatives it was clearly a…

    • 9 Nov 2015
  • Good news as the UK Government proposes to rule out fracking in SSSIs

    On Tuesday, I was in the Peak District to contribute to piece for the Today programme on Radio 4 about fracking (here at 8.35).  I argued that, contrary to existing government policy, fracking should be ruled out in SSSIs. 

    Hours after the programme was aired, Decc published a consultation about fracking on protected areas and now proposes to rule out fracking wells and other infrastructure at the surface of a wide range…

    • 5 Nov 2015
  • Getting the balance right between carrots, sticks and belief that people will do the right thing for nature

    As Defra ministers explore how to realise their ambition to restore nature in a generation through their 25 year plan, I trust they are thinking about the relative merits of the different tools they have at their disposal to make it easy for people to do the right thing: regulation, incentives, market based instruments and persuasion (resulting in voluntary action).

    Money is, of course, tight and the forthcoming Comprehensive…

    • 4 Nov 2015
  • A week in perspective

    While I was away with the family last week (enjoying walks in the Peak District, Kent and Cambridgeshire as well as the final stages of the mighty Rugby World Cup), three things caught the eye...

    First, the publication of the new global red list of birds (see here) highlighted that 40 more bird species are now classified as having a higher risk of extinction while 23 species of birds have been downgraded to lower threat…

    • 2 Nov 2015